GLENDALE — As it prepares to defend it's Pacific League title, the Crescenta Valley High girls' water polo team's unbeaten regular-season league mark not only gives the Falcons the No. 1 seed for the league championship tournament, it gives them a considerable leg up in the league's points system for crowning a champion.
Regular-season wins, of which the Falcons have six, count for a point apiece, but first place in the tournament, which begins on Tuesday at Burbank High, counts for seven, while second, third and fourth places count for six, five and four points, respectively.
So, while the Falcons are the front-runner, second-seeded Glendale, third-seeded Pasadena and fourth-seeded Burbank will all be looking to shake up the final standings as much as they can.
"We definitely feel the pressure," Falcons utility Kim Fraisse said. "Since we won it last year, we're the team that everyone wants to beat."
Crescenta Valley (23-3, 6-0 in league) will face Burbank (3-3 in league) in the opening round at 6 p.m. Tuesday in a rematch of a regular-season matchup the Falcons won, 14-9, on Jan. 20.
"They're just so balanced and that kind of gives us a little bit of a challenge on the defensive end," said Burbank Coach Carlos Pelayo, a Crescenta Valley graduate. "They're the reigning league champs for a reason.
"We're going to have to have a good defensive effort like we did in the first half last time we played them [before] it just kind of got away from us a little bit. The girls are excited really to get a second chance at them."
The Falcons have a strong team defense and boast an assortment of capable scorers, led by Fraisse, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year, and Christine Cho, while Burbank will rely on All-Area first-team member Jordan Card, among others.
"The kids are focused," Crescenta Valley Coach Pete Loporchio said. "I think they know they can't take [Burbank] lightly."
Glendale, which finished 15-8 and 5-1 in league, will take on Pasadena (4-2 in league) in the first round at 5. In the two teams' last meeting, the Nitros had to rally to win, 13-10, in overtime on Jan. 27.
"[Pasadena is] a really good team, but we cannot think for a second because we beat them [Jan. 27] that we'll be able to do it again," said Nitros Coach Forest Holbrook, whose team is led by hole/set Kristina Terzyan and goalkeeper Mariquita Lopez. "In high school athletics, usually the advantage goes to the team that lost the first time, so it's going to be interesting to see if our girls can focus for that important game."
The championship round of the tournament will be held on Thursday at Burbank with the third-place game set for 5 p.m. and the title match set to go off at 6.